We in the South have a lot of niceties. It’s one of the things that makes the South such an enjoyable place to live. And a lot of our niceties are unique to our region.

I was reminded of this the other day when I went to the liquor store (which is actually called the Liquor Store) to get a box of wine. O.K., two boxes of wine. Did you know that boxes of wine stay fresher longer than bottled wine? Not that my wine ever gets close to the “best if drunk by” date.

But I digress. So at the counter is this. Take a penny, leave a penny. You see them in stores all across the South and nobody who lives here thinks a thing of them. It’s just a  nice thing to do, to not have to fish around for a penny in your purse or pocket. Over time, it all evens out if everyone plays fair, which, of course, we always do.

By the way, this is Preston behind the counter. I know he thought I was a complete dork taking a picture of the penny dish, but he didn’t say a word and so I thought I’d just snap a photo of him as well since I gave him the name of the blog and if he checks in here he’d be disappointed not to see his picture. Niceties. But I digress again.

Other niceties that Southerners practice. We always look people in the eye and smile at them even when we don’t know them. This does not happen up North, trust me. This behavior is usually accompanied by greeting them with “Hey!” Hey is the Southern version of “Hi” and it is used with great frequency. If you happen to know the person you’re greeting, “Hey” will at times be followed with “How’s your Momma and them?”

Here’s another thing. People bring you things for no reason at all. Today, my friend Bobbie Cox brought me strawberry jam and bread and butter pickles she canned herself. I just love bread and butter pickles. They’re the sweet ones. I don’t know why they’re called bread and butter pickles, but that’s how everyone knows them down here.

Another thing we like to do is wave at people in other cars while driving. My oldest friend, Stacy, is from the Chicago area and she’d often visit me in North Carolina when I lived there. One day, while we were riding some place or another, she noticed that I was waving at various drivers. “How do you know all these people?” she asked.  People in Chicago don’t even look at each other on the street, much less wave at them in cars.

I don’t like it when people from other parts of the country make fun of Southerners and our mannerisms. I am absolutely serious about this. Some people confuse being nice with being kind of simple and not in a good way. Nice is underrated. And it will take you a long way in the South. I can assure you that there is many a business deal that gets done because of nice. People in the South don’t gossip. We have “concerns.”  And I’ll leave you now with the ultimate nicety. Even when we’re being critical of someone, we find a nice way to say it.  “Bless their heart.” As in, “Bless her heart, she ‘s wearing that bra that makes her back fat show.” I would have a concern over that.


  1. pr9000
    March 2, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I’m about to start Year Two of my time in Tennessee, and I am still amazed at how genuinely nice most people seem to be … especially after spending four years putting up with “Minnesota nice,” which isn’t at all.

  2. Terrell Jones
    Terrell JonesReply
    March 2, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    And why do people in the north think we are all un educated, uncouth and backward inbred country?

  3. Mark
    March 4, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Isn’t it funny that the conservative South is home to the “take a penny, leave a penny” jar. I’ve never seen a clearer example of pure socialism, which should horrify all right-wingers: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
    I guess the Southern “nice” gene sometimes overwhelms people’s politics.

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